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SOURCE: MORNING STAR ONLINE

ENGINEERING firm Rolls-Royce has struck a deal with Turkey for the production of nuclear mini-reactors, sparking fears that the British company and its international consortium partners are helping pave the way for Ankara to develop a nuclear bomb.

In a statement, Rolls-Royce said that its overseas holding EUAS International ICC had signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Turkish government to “help develop low-carbon energy systems opening an exciting new chapter in the strong relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Turkey.”

It is part of a consortium including BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Atkins and others. They will work together on designing the new power plant.

Rolls-Royce director David Orr claimed that the building of a new power plant would provide “tens of thousands of jobs” for people in Turkey.

EUAS International ICC chief executive Yahya Yilmaz Bayraktarli described the development as “exciting” and said the consortium was looking forward to supporting “energy, economy and industrial targets in Turkey.”

But the plans have raised fears that Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could use the development as a step towards the country becoming a nuclear-armed power.

As previously reported in the Morning Star, Turkey’s secret nuclear programme includes plans to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear missiles.

The plans have been given the green light by Mr Erdogan’s religious adviser Hayreddin Karaman, who provided not only his blessing for the government to acquire WMDs but also encouraged its leadership to do so.

Writing in a pro-government newspaper in 2017, Mr Karaman said: “We need to consider producing these weapons, rather than purchasing them, without losing any time and with no regard to words of hindrance from the West.”

There are already some 70 US-owned nuclear warheads said to be based at Incirlik airbase near the southern of Adana.

About 40 of these are thought to be under Turkish control, though details are patchy due to a lack of openness and transparency.

In previous deals with Russia and a Japanese-French consortium, the door was left open for the development of nuclear weapons after Turkey rejected offers to include the provision of uranium and the return of the spent fuel rods used in the reactors.

Ankara would be able to use its own low-enriched uranium and reprocess the fuel rods, producing its own enriched uranium for the development of nuclear weapons.

The development has parallels with the Indian missile capability developed after the testing of plutonium produced in the Canadian-supplied Cirus reactor, which first raised the issue that nuclear technology supplied for peaceful purposes could be diverted to weapons production.